Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook 101: Profiles, Groups & Pages

One of the most common — indeed perhaps the most common question we’re asked during client consultations is: “What’s the difference between Facebook Profiles, Groups and Fan Pages? Why would I want one and not the other?” The questions go right to the heart of one of the most confusing aspects of Facebook.

The issue is made all the more confusing by the visual similarity of these items and by the fact that Profiles, Groups and Fan Pages have common aspects and features. The good news is that there are unique attributes and advantages to each and it is easy to understand once you grasp the purpose behind their creation.

Let’s start by looking at their commonalities: All three types of Facebook pages provide the same basic functions, that is, the ability to post messages and various media that are viewable to others who chose to join or follow that particular page. Beyond those basics, however, these items diverge.

Take note of this fact: At present, Groups cannot be converted into Fan Pages, so your initial decision may have consequences down the road. Choose wisely!


What is it for? Profiles provide personal data and informal information sharing.

Who should have one? Individuals

Suitable for commercial purposes? No (See,http://www.facebook.com/terms.php)

example - Facebook Profile


  • Limited to 5,000 friends.
  • Can only send direct messages to people, 20 at a time.


  • Indexed by external search engines.
  • Can restrict access to your information.
  • Can obtain personalized URL.
  • Can add applications.

>> Learn more about Profiles on Facebook.



What is it for? Groups provide a focal point for people with a common interest.

Who should have one? Any cause, event or matter that appeals to a particular group of individuals.

Suitable for commercial purposes? No (See,http://www.facebook.com/terms.php)

example - Facebook Group


  • Updates to the Group are often missed by members. People have to visit the Group to see what is happening.
  • Group administrators are only able to send direct messages if the Group has less than 5,000 members.
  • Not indexed by external search engines.
  • Does not support Facebook applications or customization.
  • Content is not visible to non-Group members.
  • Cannot obtain branded URL.


  • Unlimited membership.
  • Can have multiple administrators.
  • Administrator names are visible.
  • Choose your Group’s visibility: either Open to anyone, Closed (must get administrator approval to join) or Secret (by invitation only).
  • Can appoint “Officers” (really only useful as a means of granting recognition to someone; being an Officer does not give anyone special privileges)
  • Able to create Events and send the Members invitations.

>> Learn more about Groups on Facebook.



What is it for? The promotion of an organization, a public figure, a product or a brand.

Who should have one? (1) Any entity that desires a branded presence on Facebook. (2) Anyone who needs the ability to accommodate more than 5,000 followers.

Suitable for commercial purposes? YES.

example - Facebook Fan Page


  • Generally open to anyone. Admins can only restrict access by age and location.
  • No direct messaging function (though you can send updates that appear in the Fan’s timelines, see below).


  • Unlimited membership (aka “Fans”).
  • Can have multiple administrators.
  • The page creator and administrators are anonymous to visitors.
  • Includes a Wall — similar that in Facebook Profiles. You can control what is shown there.
  • Fan Pages are visible to everyone.
  • Indexed by external search engines.
  • Supports Facebook applications and customization (using Facebook Markup Language).
  • Provides use and membership statistics (aka “Page Insights,” see image below).
  • Can specify the landing page (the tab) for arriving visitors.
  • Can add, edit (limited), and delete tabs.
  • Have dedicated space for company contact information.
  • Each tab has a unique URL.
  • You can get branded URLs (See, http://www.facebook.com/username/).
  • Sending an Update to Fans causes the message to automatically appear in all the Fan’s timeline.
  • Able to create Events and send the Fans invitations.
  • Can obtain Facebook Fan Page widget to help promote the Page (this is free and available from Facebook).
  • Fans can subscribe to updates by SMS.

Note: Facebook calls these simply “Pages” but that generic name is one source of the confusion many people experience, hence in this article we’ve used the more distinctive label “Fan Pages.”

>> Learn more about Fan Pages on Facebook.

example - Facebook Insights

In sum, if you are an individual, all you need is a Facebook Profile. If you have a special interest group or network, then consider Groups. If you are a business looking to build brand and promote a product or service, then Fan Pages are your best bet for engaging your customers and stakeholders. From a commercial marketing perspective, Fan Pages provide five key benefits that Groups cannot match:

  1. The ability add applications and thereby create a richer experience.
  2. The SEO benefits that come from having your content (and your links) spidered.
  3. The ability to obtain a branded URL for your Fan Page (and thereby control your brand on this important channel).
  4. The ability to publish the to Fans’ timelines.
  5. Access to insight metrics on activity.

Report Finds High Facebook Abandonment Rates in Asia

Over 40% of the Facebook Fan Pages created by the Asian travel industry show signs of abandonment, according to the 2010 Asian Travel Engagement Report from water&stone.

The report, based on an industry survey and an examination of well over 100 travel company Facebook pages, found 41% of Facebook Fan Pages shows signs of abandonment. 9% of the Pages had not been updated by their owners in the last 30 days. 5% had not been updated in 60 days and 27% had not been updated by their owners in the last 90 days.

facebook fan page abandonment ratesLead analyst Ric Shreves states “we were surprised by the high number of partially or completely abandoned Pages and Profiles. While perhaps some of these are simply temporarily inactive, that distinction rather begs the point, as part of the appeal of social media is the immediacy and responsiveness.”

Shreves added “while Twitter abandonment ran at 20% — not an insubstantial figure —  the number pales in comparison with the very high rate of abandonment of Facebook Fan Pages. While we can only speculate as to the causes of the abandonment, it is hard to put a positive spin on the creation and subsequent abandonment of branded properties associated with your company.”

The report also notes that inactive or improperly maintained Fan Pages can also be a risk factor. Unwatched pages are ripe for exploitation by spammers, who use the pages to broadcast their messages to the Fans that follow the page.

Shreves states “if you have decided that you no longer wish to maintain a Fan Page, and do not wish to delete it completely, then at the very least take steps to advise your existing (and potential) Fans and also put limits on what can be posted to the Page.”

The 2010 Asian Travel Engagement Report is from digital agency water&stone. The report’s findings are based both on direct data collection from the major social media channels and on a survey of the industry as a whole.

A complimentary copy of the report can be downloaded fromhttp://www.waterandstone.com/online-marketing-resources

Avoiding Brand Confusion on Social Media

If you go to Facebook and you run a search for “Thai Airways,” you get a search results page like you see in the screenshot immediately below. Which one of the multiple Fan Pages listed there is the official Thai Airways Fan Page? Is there one? Is there more than one?

This situation highlights one of the most common problems facing brands in social media today: Avoiding brand confusion and keeping control of your brand. Though this problem is in no way unique to Facebook, let’s look at the situation facing Thai Airways as an example.

In the early days of Facebook it was possible for anyone to create a Fan Page using a brand name. Last year, Facebook (finally) recognized that allowing people to create unauthorized pages using other peoples’ brands was not an acceptable practice and they took steps to reduce the problem. (Very small steps, but steps nonetheless!) The first, and arguably least effective, approach was to add a disclaimer and have users certify that they had the authority / right / permission to create the page using the brand name. Facebook did not, however, go back to the people who had already created Fan Pages and push them for such assurances, thereby leaving a number of misleading profiles in place.

A second and more meaningful step was to set up a grievance procedure whereby brand and trademark owners could petition Facebook for the exclusive use of their brand or mark. While the redress procedure has been criticized for being mostly show — and being very slow to act — it is a step in the right direction. Companies like Thai Airways would do well to begin to shut down unauthorized profiles, and to reduce redundancy where they have created more than one Fan Page. Your brand is valuable. Take steps to protect it!

Hong Kong Disneyland recently experienced another problem of a similar nature — this time on Flickr. The park maintains a personal profile on Flickr, but does not run their own Flickr Group. They did, however, join a Group created by a third party, and that’s where the difficulties arose.

The third party had created a Group named “Hong Kong Disneyland.” The Group name is a big part of the problem; it is likely to cause confusion among users and create a false impression. Moreover, the Group profile page does nothing to clear up the situation and leaves visitors with the impression that this is an official, or at least officially sanctioned, Flickr Group for the park. The Group has a significant number of members and on the whole is what it should be, that is, a collection of photos taken at the park. However, as membership is open to anyone, there is a potential for abuse — particularly in the absence of proper oversight.

The screenshot at right shows what is occurring in that Group. At least one member is using the Group to promote pornographic imagery. If an unwary visitor clicks on the circled users profile, they are taken to a page filled with pornography. Disney, though neither the owner nor the manager of the Group, suffers from the lack of oversight by the Group owner and has no real recourse. The situation seems foreseeable to us: The brand has failed to control its presence on the channel and has left itself open to abuse.

The lesson here is simple: No one will look after your brand like you will. Don’t delegate reputation management to strangers.

Fragmentation is another branding issue of concern. In the rush to get online it seems that many firms created profiles that were subsequently allowed to lay fallow. Still other brands are now struggling to get things back under control after a fast (and perhaps somewhat uncontrolled) start to their social media efforts.

Wotif is a case in point. In the past, the firm maintained a large number of Twitter profiles, each targeting a different country market. They have recently shifted away from that “pure” markets strategy, choosing instead to consolidate all their non-Australian promotional activity on Twitter into a single profile.

The new profile, named WotifG2G (seen at right), covers all the activity outside of Australia and replaces several country-specific Twitter profiles, for example, the WotifUAE and the WotifAmericas Profiles seen below. Wotif has left up the old Twitter profiles — at least for the time being — and is using them to steer existing Followers and newcomers into the new G2G profile (see, collage at bottom).

Other firms who have spread themselves too thinly, or who now find that brand control is an issue, would do well to learn from Wotif’s exercise. It may be a bit painful, but the short-term pain is offset by the long-term advantages of improving control over your message and reduced overhead.

Note: This article is excerpted from the 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report, a water&stone white paper. You can view the report in it’s entirety by visiting the online marketing resources page and clicking on the White Papers.

Managing Social Media Marketing

In April of 2010, we released the 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report. The 65 page white paper looked at social media adoption rates and patterns in the Asia travel industry. As part of that anlysis, we examined the various strategies being employed by companies faced with the challenge of managing their brands and products in the social media space. The article below is taken from the Report. In this excerpt, we take a quick look at the various market approaches being used in social media channels.

Given the wide number of choices available, and the various corporate structures and business imperatives, it should come as no surprise that firms are adopting a variety of approaches to managing their social media marketing efforts. While some firms are happy to present a consolidated front across all channels, others are taking a multi-faceted approach, in some cases mirroring their product lines, in other cases reflecting their target markets; yet other firms seem to mix things up a bit — whether by plan or circumstance, it’s hard to say.


Managing a single set of profiles for a brand seemed to be the exception, rather than the rule, for the companies we surveyed. Despite what would seem to be the gains in efficiency and ease of maintenance, only a minority of the top brands used this approach. Jetstar, Bali Safari & Marine Park, and Bangkok Airways, are all examples of firms that maintain only one official profile on the various channels.

The approach has several clear advantages:

  • Ease of maintenance
  • Consistency of message
  • Better brand control
  • Less confusion for users

However, in Asia, where many firms’ target markets speak different languages and have different concerns and priorities, a consolidated approach does rob your firm of a degree of flexibility.


A number of the accommodations firms in our study employ an approach focused on products, or if you prefer, properties. Many, like Karma Resorts, maintain multiple Facebook Fan Pages, one for each of their properties — and sometimes even for outlets on individual properties (e.g., the Karma Steakhouse & Nammos Beach Club Fan Pages seen in the collage, below). This approach can also be seen with other accommodations brands, including Mandarin Oriental and Six Senses.

Karma Resorts Facebook Fan Pages

Alila Facebook Fan PagesAlila employs a similar but slightly different strategy. Rather than building Fan Pages and profiles for each of the properties in their portfolio, they have centered their social media approach on product lines. The Alila Hotels product receives separate treatment from the Alila Villas product line. All hotel properties are dealt with in the Alila Hotels profiles; all villa properties are dealt with under the Alila Villas profiles.

The approach combines the best of both worlds, allowing Alila to tailor the messages and the content to each product line, but decreasing maintenance costs. The approach also has the added advantage of leveraging the brand across properties and enhancing opportunities for cross selling — a client who enjoys Alila Villas Soori is also likely to enjoy another of Alila’s villa properties. By combining the products into one profile, a visitor to the page or profile will be exposed to related products with which they are likely to have an affinity.

The use of a products-centric approach has several advantages:

  • Easier to manage information & promotions that are specific to individual properties
  • More inbound links to website(s), thereby enhancing search ranking
  • Ability to manage reputation on a per property basis, without fear of spillover
  • Ability to manage crises on a per property basis, without fear of spillover
  • Ability to engage in local languages

The products centric approach is not, however, without disadvantages:

  • Increased management overhead
  • Danger of brand drift
  • Increased difficulty in controlling the message
  • Decreased opportunities for cross-selling

While some of the disadvantages can be minimized where the brand’s social media marketing efforts are managed from a central location by a coordinated team, our research shows that where individual properties are given the latitude to manage their own profiles, the dangers highlighted above seem quick to arise.


Several of the more global brands in our survey employed a markets approach to their social media profile creation and management. The markets approach looks to the brand’s target markets for inspiration and creates profiles that align with those markets. We see the approach used by many of the airlines, including Air New Zealand, who created profiles targeting the various countries they view as key to their marketing efforts.

Air New Zealand Facebook Fan Pages

Malaysia Airlines also employs a markets strategy, but rather than focusing on the geographic location of their target markets, they look to the characteristics of the group. To that end, they have created profiles that are aligned with definitive characteristics of key markets. In addition to a group Fan Page, they also maintain Fan Pages targeting expats (MHExpats), students (MHStudents) and cost-conscious travelers (MHDeals).

Malaysia Airlines Facebook Fan Pages

Malaysia Airlines approach is unique among the companies we surveyed and from our research relatively rare among the industry as a whole.

The markets approach has several key advantages:

  • Ability to align your message with your target markets
  • Ability to run market-specific promotions
  • Ability to engage in local languages
  • More inbound links to website(s), thereby enhancing search ranking

The primary disadvantages are similar to those we see in a products approach, specifically:

  • Increased management overhead
  • Danger of brand drift
  • Increased difficulty in controlling the message
  • (Slightly) decreased opportunities for cross-selling


If you would like to read the entire 2010 Asia Engagement Report, it can be download by visiting our social media resources page.

Page Jacking: Facebook Fan Pages Out of Control

In April of 2010, we released the 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report. The 65 page white paper looked at social media adoption rates and patterns in the Asia travel industry. As part of that analysis, we examined the various pitfalls that await brands in social media. The article below is taken from the Report. In this excerpt, we take a look at page jacking and issues related to maintaining control of your Facebook Fan Page.

Page jacking was another major issue we found in our research. Page jacking occurs when third parties employ your Fan Page or profile as a means of promoting their message to your followers. This practice is the social networking equivalent of spam and an unfortunate reality of the virtual landscape. The bright spot here is that this is easy to detect and police against, at least in its most common form, that is, the page spammer.

The example at left shows a page spammer in action. Shamelessly, he repeatedly posts his message and (not one, but two!) email contacts.  To give him his due, what he lacks in creativity he clearly makes up for in persistence, posting again and again his promotional message on this neglected Fan Page. The page administrator here seems oblivious to what’s happening. From the date stamps, you can see that the messages have been on the site for multiple days and at one point the administrator was active on the Page after the first round of messages, but did nothing to remove them.

While the example at left shows page jacking via the Wall of a Facebook Fan Page, there are other ways spammers can use the features of a Facebook Fan Page to spread their message. One of the settings on your Fan Page allows you to enable Fans to upload photos to the Photos tab. Creative page spammers use the Fan Photos feature as a way to upload their messages, as you can see in the example taken from the Malaysia Airlines Facebook Fan Page (below).

In this example, the spammers have used the Fan Photos option to upload a variety of messages. The top row shows a (doubled) snapshot of an article from the Malaysia Airlines in-flight magazine. The poster is complaining that the facts in the article are incorrect and that the airline is culturally insensitive. While the use of the Fan Photos to raise an issue about something published by the airline is not necessarily something you would want to discourage, you probably don’t want to it to be addressed in this manner. Worse yet, the bottom row of photos shows an example of the sort of  things you would definitely want to block — in this case the spammer has uploaded an advertisement for their system for making money online with social media (see, detailed view).

Failing to police your page creates a nuisance for your followers and exposes them to possible abuse by third parties. The administrators of your profiles — particularly your Facebook Fan Pages — need to be wary of this sort of activity and take immediate steps to shut it down by deleting the posts before you lose Fans and your brand suffers.

Page jacking can also take a more aggressive form, providing a forum for people to air grievances against your brand or product and turning your Fan Page into a negative publicity weapon aimed directly at you and your Fans, as we see in the next example.

The screen shot at left shows the Facebook Fan Page of Bali Anantara Uluwatu. The property is currently in development. Its location on the cliffs of Uluwatu has been the subject of some contention by environmentalists and others concerned with development in Bali.

Those who seek to stop the development have turned the Anantara Uluwatu Fan Page into their own resource for rallying support to their cause. If you will note the screenshots, you will see that they have not only posted to the Wall, but they have also uploaded Fan Photos that support their cause and even used the Reviews tab (see, below) to further voice their objections.

Again, the administrator of this page needs to take remedial steps to get things under control and to respond to this. As it stands now, the only voices being heard on this Fan Page are those of the critics.